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UN asks Russia, US to intervene at ‘highest level’ to save Syria talks

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura (C) gestures prior a round of negotiations aimed at ending the crisis in Syria at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, on April 27, 2016. (AFP)

The United Nations has called on Russia and the US to salvage a two-month ceasefire in Syria in order to restart the peace process.

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura made the remarks in the early hours of Thursday morning during a press conference in Geneva after briefing the UN Security Council over wrapping up the latest round Syria's peace talks.

"There is no reason that both of them which have been putting so much political capital in that success story and have a common interest in not seeing Syria ending up in another cycle of war should not be able to revitalize what they have created and which is still alive but barely,” he said.

The latest round of talks, which began on April 13, were brought to a halt as the foreign-backed opposition High Negotiations Committee walked out of the negotiations last week over what it called the Damascus government’s violation of a cessation of hostilities agreement.

The Russia-US brokered ceasefire, which went into effect on February 27 across Syria, initially reduced violence there, but fighting has picked up again especially in Aleppo province, leaving the truce in tatters.

De Mistura added that talks will be meaningful only when the level of the cessation of hostilities is brought back to that seen in February and March.

The UN envoy noted that he planned the next round of talks for next month, adding that "at least one or two more rounds" will be held before July.

He noted that the Syrian government and the main opposition group are still at odds over a political transition.

In a document issued at the end of the talks, de Mistura said that the two sides shared the view "that the transitional governance could include members of the present government and the opposition, independents and others."

The government has repeatedly said that the future of President Bashar al-Assad was not up for discussions in Geneva and that political transition should come in the shape of a national unity government that includes current officials, opposition and independent figures. The opposition, however, has rejected any proposal that keeps President Assad in office.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. Damascus says Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar are the main supporters of the militants fighting the government forces.

According to de Mistura, some 400,000 people have lost their lives as a result of over five years of conflict in Syria.

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